Quality of play, not gimmicks will determine whether relaunch of XFL is successful

By On January 25, 2018

Quality of play, not gimmicks will determine whether relaunch of XFL is successful

Quality of play, not gimmicks will determine whether relaunch of XFL is successful

More football is a good thing, but only if the quality is good

  • @PriscoCBS
  • • 4 min read

More football is a good thing.

But is another version of the XFL a good thing?

The last time Vince McMahon, he of the WWE and all that brings with it, launched a supposed rival football league to the NFL, it lasted all of one season. And then, like so many other challengers before it, it vanished into the graveyard of dead sports lea gues.

What's so different now? Why does McMahon think the country is ready for another football league, which his set to debut in 2020? Is it the talk that the NFL is dying? If so, he's way off-base.

Maybe it's because of the talk that the anthem protests have hurt the league and now is the time to strike.

Who knows the real reason, but more football is always good thing.

That's only if the quality of play is any good.

That's the rub. The NFL has enough issues of its own trying to field good teams, yet the XFL is expected to be the caliber of football that we want to watch? I don't see it.

Take the offensive line play now in the NFL. It's beyond bad. That's because the college games aren't prepping the players for the NFL style anymore and the teams don't get the reps needed to grow their lines together. Contrast that with the speed on the defensive side of the ball, and you know why the offenses struggle at times.

If the NFL teams had to start their backup offensive linemen, the quality of play would be a disaster. Think five turnstiles working in unison.

There aren't enough men 6-5, who weigh 300 to 320 pounds who have the skill set to play the position.

That, in turn, puts the quarterbacks in even more peril, and leads to many of them flaming out before they even get a chance to develop.

So let's see: There aren't enough good quarterbacks or offensive lineman for the NFL, but the XFL will be fine? But at least they can put what they want on the backs of their jerseys.

The XFL did a lot of fun things when it played the one season in 2001, but the level of play just wasn't very good. And, yes, I watched. I've watched them all:

The AFL, The World League, the USFL, NFL Europe and any other league you can name has been part of my viewing during my lifetime.

But I watched for the football. N ot the gimmicks.

Who cares if players are not allowed to make fair catches or there are no kicked extra points â€" both rules of the XFL in the first go around? The first rule spawned the famous "He Hate Me", who was really Rod Smart, and ended up actually being a pretty good player.

I liked that part of it. It was fun.

The football was not.

The quarterback play, aside from a handful of players, was terrible. The offensive line play was just as bad.

People don't tune into football games to see the circus. They watch to see the game.

When the AFL was an upstart league challenging the NFL, it brought a new brand of football to the forefront, a wide-open offensive show that featured bombs filling the air.

I loved the AFL. It was entertaining. But, more importantly, the football was good.

The AFL had characters like Joe Namath and Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and Ben Davidson and plenty of others, but t he talent was good. The games were well played.

Other leagues have had quality play as well. The USFL had loads of good players and coaches and well-played games before it folded.

So, yes, starting another league is exciting, but the bottom line is if the quality of play isn't good, it won't matter if we have a carnival barker like McMahon and all of his gimmicks trying to get you intrigued.

This was part of the release sent out by the league: The XFL will deliver a fan-centric, innovative experience, including shorter, fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

See anything in there about quality of play? Me neither.

So let's hope this time around the XFL is more about the game, and less about the gimmicks. I like that it will mean more jobs. I like that players who might not get a chance in the NFL will have a chance in the XFL.

So don't miss the target audience, Vince. Football fans want to watch football â€" not some sideshow that is full of quirky rules and gimmicks, which you found out the first time around.

I am rooting for this to work. Like I said, more football is a good thing â€" if it's really football.

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris would also like to see the XFL work.

"I think it's good,'' Harris said via text.

"It gives guys another opportunity to still play ball if the NFL doesn't work out. I don't know how the rules are going to be, but I hope it works out."

Pete Prisco CBS Sports Senior Writer follow

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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